By Kevin Collison
The new owner of the former AT&T building at 500 E. Eighth St. is proposing to completely overhaul the 1973 office tower and reopen it as premium office space at an estimated cost of $63 million.
Gene Rerat told the board of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority it will cost $43 million alone to remove asbestos and essentially rebuild all but the shell of the tower.
Rerat is affiliated with Maxus Properties of North Kansas City which purchased the 13-story building earlier this year.
“It will be reborn as a multi-tenant office building,” he said. “It has great parking and structure is in great shape. Everything else needs to be redone.”
In a separate interview, Rerat, who is president of Base Management LLC of Minneapolis, estimated it would cost an additional $20 million to finish the tower to premium or Class A office level.
At one time, AT&T employed 1,100 workers there, but the company has vacated the 362,000 square-foot structure. The firm has relocated its remaining employees to another building it owns at 2121 E. 63rd St. in Kansas City.
Rerat said Maxus would like to begin renovating the property in early 2020 and estimated it would take about 18 months to complete the job. That timetable could be accelerated, he said, if tenants are found.
He confirmed the new owners of the building are among the many metro landlords trying to attract the operations being relocated by the United States Department of Agriculture from Washington D.C. to Kansas City.
Rerat did not believe Maxus was pitching the building to Waddell & Reed, the Overland Park-based financial services company now searching for new space.
The former AT&T building is located in a federal opportunity zone, a designation that would make companies locating there eligible for substantial federal tax incentives.
The plan to completely overhaul the former AT&T building is coming at a time when downtown interests are trying to encourage the development of more premium office space to land companies.
Two other major office projects are being pursued, the 25-story Strata project at 13th and Main, and a 100,000 square-foot plus office building planned by Platform Ventures at 13th and Wyandotte across from Barney Allis Plaza.
The PIEA board approved a general development plan for the 500 E. Eighth Street building as well as the nearby East Village redevelopment area.
The developer intends to seek tax incentives to help finance renovation of the building, but still must complete other steps before submitting a formal proposal.
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